Al Jazeera reporter resigns over "biased" Syria coverage
Published Thursday, March 8, 2012
Al Jazeera Arabic's Beirut correspondent, Ali Hashem, resigned on Tuesday after leaked emails revealed his frustrations over the news channel's coverage of Syria, according to a source within the television network.
Hashem's resignation comes weeks after pro-Assad hackers leaked emails that revealed the dismay among Al Jazeera's staff over its “biased and unprofessional” coverage of the Syrian uprising.
“Hashem's misgivings are clear and well-known, and are no longer a secret to anyone," the source, wishing to remain anonymous, said.
"You can check the emails he sent to his colleague, Rula Ibrahim, to know his position which changed after the station refused to show photos he had taken of armed fighters clashing with the Syrian Army in Wadi Khaled. Instead [Al Jazeera] lambasted him as a shabeeh (implying a regime loyalist).”
The source also said that Hashem reported his dismay to several officials in the station, not just to his colleague, Ibrahim.
Complicating matters for Hashem was Al Jazeera's refusal to cover the uprising in Bahrain.
“[In Bahrain], we were seeing pictures of a people being butchered by the 'Gulf's oppression machine', and for Al Jazeera, silence was the name of the game,” the source added.
According to the source, Hashem was not the only Al Jazeera reporter to express his frustration over its coverage. Staff members in Al-Jazeera's offices in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Syria, and Bahrain also voiced similar opinions.
The source explained that most reporters at Al Jazeera are professionals and come from prestigious schools of journalism where such biased coverage is unacceptable and particularly since several field reporters are “seeing the truth” themselves.
“There is a division among the staff members in the station. As for Hashem, he thought he could change one thing, but he couldn't so he chose to resign," the source said.
"This is what happens to the majority of people who oppose the station's provocative policy. They end up resigning.”
Al Jazeera is a Qatari owned and based satellite network, and has been the center of controversy throughout its short history.
It made US officials angry when it aired gruesome footage of the US invasion and occupation of Iraq last decade.
But Qatar's hardening foreign policy in the Middle East, in particular its efforts to overthrow Syrian President Bashar Assad while supporting Bahrain's crackdown on dissent, has made inroads on Al Jazeera's coverage of Arab affairs.
(Al-Akhbar - Wissam Kanaan contributed to this report)